LAFC had been having on-and-off talks with Mark-Anthony Kaye in recent months over his future, but this week saw the team come to a resolution that led to the midfielder’s departure.
In large part because the team wanted to have the type of roster budget flexibility that will allow for moves in the long term. Quite possibly in the short, too.
LAFC sent Kaye on Tuesday to the Colorado Rapids in a major trade that saw the former franchise receive $1 million in General Allocation Money (GAM) and a 2022 international roster slot in return. The deal, which also saw LAFC ship a 2022 first-round MLS Draft pick to the Rapids, means the Canadian will switch addresses after three-and-a-half years in Los Angeles.
The decision to part ways with Kaye was not the easiest given his status as a regular starter with LAFC and despite the knowledge that this was always a possibility after discussions about his future began in preseason. That said, the move was made largely so that the team could have more room to make roster acquisitions in the future.
“It does offer a lot of flexibility for us moving forward in how we want to go about improving the team,” said LAFC general manager John Thorrington on a conference call on Tuesday. “Without going into specifics of players, it will enable us to now spend this money and these resources in a way that we think can help fill the gap now vacated by Mark as well as improve in other areas.”
Here from the start.
— LAFC (@LAFC) July 27, 2021
Another factor that may have played a role in the 26-year-old Kaye’s exit at this time is the reported looming signing of Colombian striker Cristian Arango from Millonarios. Thorrington did not confirm nor deny the rumors when asked about the striker who is said to be on his way to Los Angeles.
“I am not going to talk about specifics about players, inbound (or) outbound,” said Thorrington. “That is my policy, but what I can say is, yes, it is a significant transaction, as it should be for a player of Mark’s quality and experience. It is a significant transaction.”
The challenge now is to find a way to replace Kaye, an LAFC original who has been a midfield staple alongside Latif Blessing and Eduard Atuesta since the team’s debut season in 2018. Kaye started in 77 regular-season games since that inaugural campaign, scoring nine goals and delivering 18 assists.
The option that might be most likely to fill the void left by the Canadian national team player is Jose Cifuentes. The 22-year-old Ecuadorean talent has not only impressed as of late with his performances in the center of the park, but it just might have been his recent run of form that gave LAFC the confidence to say that now was the time to part ways with Kaye.
“Certainly Cifu’s emergence, his high level of play in this last stretch, has been something that we are all very excited about,” said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. “I think he started the season a little slow, was not that fit and sharp when he arrived, but has worked himself into things in a great way and has been one of our best players in this (recent) stretch.”
Still, Kaye will not be easy to replace given his two-way contributions and versatility. His level of play has been at a good level since joining LAFC, which led several MLS teams to inquire about trading for him recently.
“He knew that there was interest in him from other clubs. He told me that,” said Bradley. “How he found out, whether the agents are involved, but at a certain point when a player is talking about the fact that there are other teams interested then part of what we have to do is assess what that means here.”
Ultimately, it resulted in Kaye’s move to the Rapids. He will embark on his new journey soon, but only after making an impact with LAFC during an impressive three-and-a-half seasons.
“It was a really, really tough decision, but one we felt was necessary,” said Thorrington. “Hopefully it will work out well for Mark, Colorado, and LAFC.”